DNA testing for jobs may be on its way, warns Gartner

There may be a future where genetics informs hiring and promotions

ORLANDO, Fla. -- It is illegal today to use DNA testing for employment, but as science advances its understanding of genes that correlate to certain desirable traits -- such as leadership and intelligence -- business may want this information.

People seeking leadership roles in business, or even those in search of funding for a start-up, may volunteer their DNA test results to demonstrate that they have the right aptitude, leadership capabilities and intelligence for the job.

This may sound farfetched, but it's possible based on the direction of the science, according to Gartner analysts David Furlonger and Stephen Smith, who presented their research at the firm's Symposium IT/xpo here. This research is called "maverick" in Gartner parlance, meaning it has a somewhat low probability and is still years out, but its potential is nonetheless worrisome to the authors.

It isn't as radical as it seems. Job selection on the basis of certain desirable genetic characteristics is already common in the military and sports. The average athlete in the National Football League, for instance, is 6'2" in height and nearly 247 pounds, versus the average man at 5'9" and 182 pounds.

Science has demonstrated a linkage between genes and IQ in twins, and new research has identified genes linked to leadership. One firm, BGI in China, is working to identify human intelligence.

Genetic testing to glean personal insights is also mainstream. People are interested in what genetic testing reveals about their health and ancestry. Science is certain to unlock more information from these genetic tests as time goes on.

If businesses come to believe that some employees are born predisposed to leadership, they may be interested in identifying people early in their careers who have the genes that may help them become the next great CEO, CIO or CFO. But one thing businesses can't do is to ask for a blood test.

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 prohibits employers from collecting this information. The law was motivated, in part, by concern that employers will use genetic test information to screen out job applicants who may be at risk for certain types of illnesses. A blood test may be unnecessary.

Businesses, using this understanding about how some characteristics are genetically determined, may develop new interview methodologies and testing to help identify candidates predisposed to the traits they desire, such as leadership.

Now that scientists know some characteristics are genetically driven, "we can move with a little more confidence and start modeling out what we think it might look like in ways that don't break the law," Smith said.

It's also possible that people may voluntarily turn over DNA to demonstrate that they have the key markers to succeed, said Furlonger. A CEO candidate, for instance, may give up his or her DNA in a job hunt, prompting others to act similarly.

"We should be cautious about this," said Smith.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags businessemployment

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Patrick Thibodeau

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?